Day three – spoke repairs and a short spin

Day three dawned with the lovely realisation that Team Tandem Ecosse had a second day in the pretty medieval village of Chateauneuf, meaning no frantic packing for the luggage collection. The feeling of being able to relax was however clouded by the fact that I had two broken spokes and needed a repair.

Previously such a delicate matter had been handled by my personal tandem surgeon Ally back at the bike shop in Perth. But today I was going to be in the hands of the “old gal” in her role as Chief Engineer on the trip, assisted by the “old git” who was performing his role of Chief Panic Merchant!

The dynamic duo firstly fuelled up on a marvellous breakfast of cold meats, cheese, croissants and home-made jams courtesy of our lovely hostess at Chez Bagatelle.

Then it was time for my open-tyre surgery! The “old gal” had a short verbal instruction brief from Ally at the bike shop and had taken some spare spokes and a spoke key. But I was a little worried as she was a spoke replacement virgin!

But like the cool and calm Chief Engineer that she is, she performed admirably. Firstly I was turned upside down before the air was let out of my rear tyre – all in full view of passers-by as we were in the garden of the Gite. I mean, can an “old lady” like me not have some dignity! But needs must and the next task was that the tyre was carefully prized off the rim and the old broken spoke removed.

Then there was the fun of inserting a new spoke (already with the bend at the end) into my rear wheel centre. A bit of careful bending of the metal spoke, then weaving it through the other spokes, then finally inserting it into the rim and screwing it home, This process had to be repeated twice to repair both spokes. And by this stage the “old git” was actually helping more than he was hindering, so it was all positive!

Now replacing the spokes is really the easy part – as then the “old gal” had to go round all my spokes to gently tighten them to get my wheel back in alignment.

I have to say full marks to the “old gal” as she did a brilliant job and my wheel was back to being a circle without any buckles. And she was rather pleased with herself – not surprising really considering what a technical job she had just carried out.

So to the amazement of the “old git” in just over an hour I was back ready for action – feeling much better for having the two spokes replaced!  I was ready to resume the adventure and I was basking in all the attention I had been receiving during my “operation.”

Thur - Matilda at Chat

Ready to resume the Burgundy adventure in the glorious sunshine at Chateauneuf.

Both the “old git” and the “old gal” needed a bit of recovery time after the trauma of the engineering job, so they took an hour or so to explore the magnificent Chateau at Chateauneuf. They marvelled at its architecture and its beautiful furniture which has belonged to the same family for 800 years.

Then after a refreshing drink in a local café it was time to get back on the road. As today was a double stopover day in Chateauneuf there was the option of a 16 mile loop to stretch the legs (and stop them from seizing up!) or a longer much more arduous 25 mile circle into the mountains to see some reservoirs.

The “old gal” sensibly chose the shorter route and off we pedalled out of the village – immediately enjoying some serious downhill stretches (which of course we knew we would have to walk back up to return to our Gite.)

We even hit a top speed of 32mph – albeit for a few brief seconds. I was fair enjoying it as no one had ridden me that fast for many a long year I can tell you. But then the shout of “brake” came from my rear saddle as the “old gal” doesn’t like approaching hairpin bends at speed!

We again cycled through some picturesque villages including Commarin – where we were lucky enough to see a lavender field in full bloom.

Just as we were all enjoying some flat cycling we hit the wall again – or at least the next major hill. As our “bible” guide said – “you will climb up hill for quite some time and eventually come out onto a plateau.” Well, after a lot of huffing and pushing and drinks of water, the three of us were never happier than when we saw the plateau.

Next it was time for a gentler downhill stretch – allowing the “old git” to issue his “freewheel” command.

But the road was a bit on the bumpy side and at one time we crashed through a pothole and heard that metallic twang which I now know is the sound of a spoke breaking.

This time the “old gal” decided it could be tied up, in order to avoid running repairs at the side of the road. So on we cycled through Beaume and then Creancy – stopping briefly to admire the very pretty château and gardens.

The last part of today’s loop took us onto the canal paths – which brought a wide grin to the face of the “old gal” as not only were the paths super smooth, but they were flat!

Miles of easy cycling flat paths lay ahead of us and we soon picked up a good speed as we ate up the distance – stopping at the village of Vandenesse when the “old git” spotted a ‘Salon du The.’

It was a great stop as it was run by a British couple who moved out to Burgundy for a different lifestyle some 11 years ago.

The dynamic duo both had a welcome soft drink and polished off a piece of their home-made carrot cake – which seems to have become a staple for my tandemers!

Thur - Di and Tig at t room

The “two old farts” at the ‘Salon du The’ wearing those eye-catching t-shirts!

The pair wore the bilingual “two old farts on a tandem” t-shirts they had designed for the trip for the first time today. And I have to admit I was a tiny bit jealous as they lapped up all the attention, waves, and tooting of horns of car drivers as they appreciated the joke,

Thur - Matilda at tea room

A “brochure” shot of me looking resplendent outside the tea room.

However while they were having their carrot cake – and enjoying their break – they left me beside a wall and I got lots of attention too, with people coming up and taking a look to see that I really was a bicycle made for two. One cheeky person even decided to check if my horn worked. It did!

After picking up a couple of gifts, and refilling my water bottles – we headed off on the home stretch along the tow paths back to the bottom of the hill for the steep ascent to the Gite.

We approached from a different direction and were warned by the “bible” to conserve energy for the “500m of climbing” to get back up to the village. Unfortunately it added: “This is a really steep climb – probably a 12% gradient.”

And it wasn’t kidding! It was a killer, requiring many stops and another ice-cold reviving drink on arrival back at the Gite.

The “old gal” was a bit concerned about that broken spoke, so before locking me up for the night she gave me an inspection which revealed – horror of horrors – that there was a second spoke broken as well. That means another two to be replaced, but again the “old gal” persuaded the “old git” that they could do the repair in the morning before the next leg of the trip.

After a nice cooling bottle of premier cru St Aubin white wine, the “old git” and the “old gal” headed off to dinner with two others doing the same trip – John and Nancy who hailed from the Yukon in Canada.

We had all got to know each other earlier on the trip – and they signed up as a “follower” to my blog! So I am very proud to say Matilda’s Musings has now gone global with my first international follower!

A celebratory bottle of local Cremant ensured everyone was in a good mood and relaxed – before an enjoyable meal at the creperie. It was most educational with the “old git” asking lots of questions about the Yukon and John and Nancy asking lots of questions about tandeming!

It turned out that John and the “old gal” were kindred spirits – as he had an equal hating for hills! In fact, if anything, he hated them more.

What with the cycling, the fresh air, the food and the wine it was all rather exhausting for the “old git” and the “old gal”. So on return to the Gite, the pair were asleep and snoring their heads off within seconds!

No doubt dreaming of more spoke repairs!


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